Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight

A brief warning before we start, especially for those who haven't read Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Here be spoilers. Because unfortunately there really is no way to write about this book without doing that.

I have probably gone about this the wrong way because what I should have done is blogged about Daughter of Smoke and Bone first, but I just love this series so much that I couldn't wait to tell you all about it. Basically the premise is that it follows Karou, a 17-year-old art student living in Prague who occasionally has to run some dubious-sounding errands for her adoptive father Brimstone, which involve crossing into the world of Brimstone's shop through portals dotted around the world. Karou falls in love with an angel, Akiva, who eventually reveals to her who she truly is: a chimaera named Madrigal, who was Akiva's lover in a previous life. Together they dreamed of ending the war between the angels and the chimaera, but were discovered and Madrigal was executed as a traitor. Brimstone captured Madrigal's soul as it left her body and resurrected her as Karou. At the end of the first novel, the angels have destroyed all the portals to Brimstone's world and killed the chimaera, so Karou sets off to find the one way back to her home and her people.

The first thing that struck me about Days was that it is much, much darker than Daughter - partly because it's set in the aftermath of the war between the angels and the chimaera, partly because of Karou's new role, and partly because there's a lot more emphasis on the battles and much more sinister characters coming to the fore. And yet the familiar elements are still there - beautifully drawn characters both old and new (I defy anyone not to love Karou's best friend Zuzana just a little bit), the beautiful writing - Laini Taylor has a gorgeous turn of phrase - and, at its heart, the love story between Karou and Akiva. It is laced with the betrayal of the ending of the first book but at the same time that longing for someone that goes right to the core even after they've hurt you so deeply, and it's so brilliantly realised that, despite having been lucky enough to never suffer a heartbreak like that myself, I was completely swept up in the conflict between Karou's pain and her yearning. It ends on a cliffhanger, but one coupled with a note of hope, and I couldn't have wished for better.

I really can't say much more than if you like your fantasy well paced, stylish and completely immersive, then I'd highly recommend this series. The third in the trilogy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, is due out in April next year according to Goodreads, and frankly I cannot wait.

Days of Blood and Starlight is yours for the princely sum of £7.99 on Kindle; if you prefer a physical copy the hardback is £9.59 on Amazon though currently showing as out of stock. Or if you can wait long enough the paperback comes out on 15th August, and if I didn't already have it I'd be rushing down to Waterstones to buy it (other bookshops are available).

Coming up next in What I Read: George Eliot's Middlemarch. Which, I'll be honest, I'm a bit scared of, but I'll keep you posted.

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